Monday, May 23, 2011

Chaos vs. The Dance

No this isn't a post about Slannash taking on Garth Brooks, though that would be an interesting Celebrity Deathmatch.  I mean, my money would be on Slannash, but I'm fairly certain Garth would win out in the long haul.  The Dark Side is strong in that one.

No, what I'm really talking about here is the fine line between scripted fights and pure chaos - and to try and look at what folks REALLY want from their raid encounters.

Now, I don't have any scientific evidence, polling data, or anything really beyond my own feelings.  However since I represent 10% of a top 10 guild on Stormscale, and I have my own blog, I'm going to consider myself expert enough to make the calls on this.  Hey, don't look at me funny, apparantly that's more than you need to be an 'expert'.  Just ask Tobold or Wolfshead.

To the point

So one of the largest complaints that I've heard/seen about raid bosses in WoW is that they are scripted to a major extent.  Timers exist for 95% of the abilities in he game, and the other 5% are pretty easy to suss out on your own.  To this extent raiding at the end game is more about learning the dance moves and executing them properly than anything else.  Boss does X, you do Y, and so on down the line.  Stack here, spread out there.  A finely tuned raid really is like a great ballet.  DPS rotations are optimized, so it's just a matter of processing that sequence properly, and adjusting when you have to move and start over again.  Even healing is fairly scripted.

Of course it's not 'really' that easy, or we'd all be killing Sinestra in the first three weeks of content release.  Now it may be that more players than not are just 'bad', and terrible MMO players who are really nothing more than a bunch of basement living mouth-breathers.  Either that, or the players who are actually killing/have killed all the heroic bosses are a bunch of no-lifers who have never been laid, don't have jobs, and it's the rest of us that suck.

Obviously neither of those extremes are true, and there are more factors involved than what's on the surface.  This isn't a debate on your hobby of mountain biking and climbing K2 are more deserving of recognition than someone who's hobby is slaying internet dragons.  And if you want to toss in the grand old slander of "well I'm sure those no-lifers have never gotten laid", remember that priests and nuns are supposed to fall into that catagory as well.

Back to the topic - Chaos vs. Structure

First I think calling it Chaos is just incorrect - in reality what it seems some players think they want in end game raiding is complete randomness.  Even the most random bosses in the game (that I can think of) are still fairly predictable once an event occurs.  Take for example Hex Lord Malacrass in ZA.  While his selection of which class to pull powers from is random (taken from the pool of available characters), what he does once those abilities are gained is fairly straight forward.  Same with Daakara - you don't know which two forms you'll get, but once you learn them all it's not a big deal.

Blizzard tried to introduce some randomness to the encounters with Halfus in BoT, and I saw a lot of complaining about the fact that each week you had to essentially relearn the fight until you mastered all of the combinations - some of which were exponentially more difficult to handle than others.  But even this wasn't truly random, as the abilities still had scripted responses.

So what is it that someone is looking for? A boss with every ability that has ever been concieved in the game?  Think about how frustrating that would be, for any skill level of player.  Imagine a boss where the first time you pulled him a Defile was dropped on the ground, and the boss then immediately did a Chimaeron massacre, with a Crackle following close behind.  Then on the next pull you get a class call from Vanilla Nef where all your hunters have their bows instantly break.  This is followed up by the summoning of some Sons of Ragnaros, and then the boss submurges ala The Lurker Below.  Oh, and add in a randomly spawning (with random mobs carrying the orb) shield generators.

Does that kind of encounter really sound like fun?  Is the prospect of losing your raid becuase the boss did two completely different abilities really make you think that it would be a good boss?  You couldn't have the boss simply take on the (Form of, Earth!) characteristics of other bosses for a few moments, because then he'd be predictable again. 

The right answer

Unfortunately, I don't know what this is.  I don't blame anyone for what WoW has become, because hell - I still love the game.  I started leveling a new DK, just so I could experience the pain of tanking at 85 (that and I've heard that DKs are the worst tanks while leveling). 

No 'new' game will ever bring back the memories and exclusivity that older players (I won't even call them veterans) feel like they used to have.  I don't miss the pain of 40 man raids and Vanilla WoW, the torture of trying to solve Zork, or being on active duty.  Sure - all of those things had some bright moments, but then I remember the shit that went with it.  Eff that.

Remember, if you're not first, you're just following in someone else's footsteps - and that ain't all that bad.

1 comment:

  1. Players don't know what they want. About 90% of things that players ask for, they'd scream for the devs to drop it after about a week on the PTR.

    My favorite is fishing, everyone says that fishing is boring and that it really needs a change, but everything I've heard people suggest they'd turn right against the second it got in the way of efficiently farming their food mats. I'm sure there's a better fishing system out there for the context of this game that someone can dream up, but what usually sounds exciting in a player's mind is only exciting for about day or so, then a dreaded chore and game wrecker after that.


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